October 9, 2017
Conor Oberst is an unstoppable force. Since releasing his first album at thirteen years old, he has released over 20 studio albums between his solo releases and his bands, most notably the 2000’s indie-emo-folk group, Bright Eyes. He’ll be coming to the Neighborhood Theatre on October 15 to support his most recent albums, Ruminations and Salutations, a pair of records that shows the contrasting styles of which Oberst is capable. Opening the show will be longtime friend and collaborator Tim Kasher (who was in Oberst’s defunct band Commander Venus), and Frances Quinlan of Hop Along.
Last year’s Ruminations is a collection of sparse songs, recorded alone in his hometown of Omaha, Nebraska, on guitar, piano, and harmonica. These quiet solo recordings allow Oberst’s songwriting to shine, with very little to distract the listener from the lyrical poetry and delicately crafted melodies. However, these recordings were essentially demos of Salutations, which features all of the songs from Ruminations performed in a full-band setting. The songs are more fleshed out and energized, with contributions from many other musicians, including The Felice Brothers (who will be his backing band on this tour), Gillian Welch, Jim James, and M. Ward. While the Ruminations sessions could be seen as Oberst’s version of Bruce Springsteen’s Nebraska, Salutations sounds more like Neil Young’s Harvest with its heavier use of country rock instrumentation.
Tim Kasher, best known as the frontman of the groups Cursive and The Good Life, has been close to Oberst since the beginning of his career in Omaha. He is touring to support his newest release, No Resolution, which is both his most recent solo album and the soundtrack for his directorial debut film of the same name. The album features some of the most orchestral music of his career, and focuses on an engaged couple on the verge of a breakup. Both Oberst and Kasher have crafted careers around storytelling, wrapping stories of loneliness, depression, loss of faith, and failed relationships into songs filled with quotable lines that launched a thousand AIM away messages.
Frances Quinlan, the songwriter and frontwoman of the band Hop Along, will be opening the show for the two indie-rock mainstays. Hop Along is one of the newest additions to Saddle Creek Records, the Omaha label that helped launch Oberst and Kasher’s careers many years ago. Their most recent album, 2015’s Painted Shut, is an outstanding, loud, anthemic collection of songs, that are filled with brilliant lyrics and soaring melodies full of the same angst and pain heard in early Bright Eyes and Cursive material. Last year the band played a killer set at The Neighborhood Theatre, and it will be interesting to see the different style that Frances brings as a solo performer.